ANN: Fix for 3-billion-year-old genetic error could dramatically improve genetic sequencing.
“The new innovation engineered at UT Austin is an enzyme that performs reverse transcription but can also “proofread,” or check its work while copying genetic code. The enzyme allows, for the first time, for large amounts of RNA information to be copied with near perfect accuracy.” Exciting and mind-blowing. On the flip side, let’s hope it doesn’t make viruses more potent.
The Toast: Female Philosophers of the Early Modern Era.
“Here’s another list of seventeenth century philosophers: Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Mary Astell, Damaris Masham, Catherine Cockburn, Bathsua Makin. You can take a philosophy degree, including Early Modern philosophy, and not come across a single one of these women. ”
ANN: Codex Rossanensis, original Biblical manuscript, goes on display in Calabria.
Looks rather amazing.
Ancient Origins/Breaking News: Enormous Monument Over 2,000 Years Old Discovered in Petra.
Physics/Viewpoint: Black Holes Have Soft Quantum Hair.
Over my head, but I think I get it.
Guardian.UK: Memorising poetry is an art of the heart.
“There are some people I know who are just able to carry around absurd amounts of poetry in their heads.” I used to, when a kid in Princeton. It was a novelty in my social group. I have to have a certain amount of alcohol now to revive the neurons. I should make time to reestablish the pathways naturally; it’s something I’d like to add to my everyday conversation. On the endless life to-do list ...
Town Topics (Princeton, NJ): Jeff Lucker Looks Back on 47 Years Teaching History at PHS.
I survived Bulger and Roufberg. I never had Mr Lucker, but recall him fondly. You’d see him jogging through town at a certain time of day, you could set your watch by him. He reflects a kinder, gentler time in education. Part of that ‘culture of intelligence’ I love to talk about.
Createquity: The BFA’s Dance With Inequality.
“Has the arts degree become a luxury, or are artists from less advantaged backgrounds missing out on something?” There’s something I suppose only someone raised around the Ivy League could appreciate, affecting this. An arts degree is one of the few ‘socially approved’ degrees for rootless young children (mostly female) of affluence. As a result, there is often a bifurcation in arts programs - those who are ‘coasting’ until graduation, versus the working-class talents who are scraping to afford the education, milking the experience and contacts extensively in whatever free hours they have beyond the necessary work-study and other financial aid debt-slavery used to attend the best art schools. Sale ramen and bottled spaghetti sauce for four years, and worse ... to realize their dreams. To enter the workforce for a <20k paycheck, often. Yeah, realities. Meantime, the affluent coasters marry up to other bluebloods, nary a concern about debt. Or about art.
Two from Atlas Obscura.
ANN: Egyptologists differ on Tut tomb ‘hidden chambers’.
Apparently many of the ‘facts’ we’ve heard are still but theories, yet to be conclusively proven. Even the assumptions about Tut’s mask being repurposed was shut down. So this one is ‘back burner’ material until more experts weigh in.
ANN: Leonardo da Vinci’s DNA - Experts unite to shine modern light on a Renaissance genius.
The great never get to sleep in peace.
Western Digs: 900-Year-Old Village Recorded in Volcanic Badlands of New Mexico.
Another reason to oppose fracking/mineral leasing near Chaco!
Independent.UK: Ancient Egyptian statue of Sekhemka disappears into private collection.
Terrible shame. Look at the exquisite modelling of the features.
The Millions: Ward Farnsworth Doesn’t Mess Around - On ‘Classical English Metaphor’.
Oh yes. On my reading list!
Archaeology News Network: Influence of religion and predestination on evolution and science.
“The author notices that despite conclusions that evolution is not a linear process, biologists have never stopped seeing and contemplating ‘preadaptations’ and ‘regressive evolution’, when speculating on phenomena such as the lack of eyes in some exclusively cave-dwelling animals. Such choice of words can be easily traced back to assumptions of linearity and, therefore, predestination, common for various religions.” Western Civ permeates.
MeFi: The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.
The thing is, not to avoid mistakes, but to make better mistakes. Iterate more efficiently.
Open Culture: Watch Animated Introductions to 25 Philosophers.
Even these short excerpts may be too much for some short-attention-span individuals. But worth the watching, for those who have never had any exposure to these ideas.
Vox: More American children and teens aren’t just obese. They’re morbidly obese.
Gack. Well, I’ve pointed to this book before - expensive, but very much worth the price: Schooled on Fat. You will be shocked, I think. I was. It has the honor of being the first book I’ve ever reviewed on Amazon.
New Scientist: Why so much science research is flawed – and what to do about it.
“Listening to When I’m Sixty-Four by The Beatles can make you younger. This miraculous effect, dubbed ‘chronological rejuvenation’, was revealed in the journal Psychological Science in 2011. It wasn’t a hoax, but you’d be right to be suspicious. The aim was to show how easy it is to generate statistical evidence for pretty much anything, simply by picking and choosing methods and data in ways that researchers do every day.” Why I try to ignore statistics; they’re like the internet itself. One can create a fantasy world to support just about any contention.
OpenCulture: Free Shakespeare Course Starts Today.
Slate: A Hamilton critic on why the musical isn’t so revolutionary.
Colbert’s quote, “I didn’t have to read the Bible, because I saw Jesus Christ Superstar” is telling, even as a bad joke. Should entertainment merely entertain, or should it at least try to educate? As I’ve hinted before, I fear America may be reaching ‘peak ignorance’, in part thanks to media and entertainment sectors.
The Atlantic: Why Promising Baltimore Students Don’t Escape Poverty.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. You pull a child out of a bad situation, put her/him in a good one, they’ll thrive. Boarding schools might help solve this - if there were the will to vivify them. America might end up stunned at the excellence unleashed. I saw, via his childhood diary, how my own father (ensconced in an orphanage) went from near-illegible and near-unintelligible to quicksilver, witty and erudite in a few short years after being sponsored to a private prep school (where he had to shovel out the stables, do the most menial chores to stay). Riffing off an earlier post, ‘social elites’ felt he had to ‘prove’ himself by superhuman efforts in order to ‘deserve’ education. Physical labor, excessive hours ... and catching up to grade level? Efforts that social elites could never match, even if they wanted to. And that is what is wrong with having the ‘haves’ legislate aid to the ‘have nots’. They load the dice. The fact that Dad succeeded, is amazing.
DiscoverMag: Mummies in the Americas Belong to a Vanished Civilization.
“The drastic decline of indigenous populations following the arrival of the conquistadores was well documented, but never empirically proven. Now, peering back in time with the help of genetics and statistics, the researchers were able to definitively show the unprecedented decimation in South and Central America.”
Alternet: Why Are K-12 School Leaders Being Trained in Coercive Interrogation Techniques?
Children are *not* criminals.
[When, O when, will we reach ‘peak ignorance’, and return to sanity?]
BusinessInsider: Smartest public high schools in America.
“Princeton High School is among the smartest in the US.” Speaking from experience, it helps that the town fosters a culture of intelligence. With Princeton University, The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Graduate School, Westminster Choir College, the Thomas Aquinas Institute, the Princeton Theological Seminary - and more - in town, all within spitting distance of each other. Everyone you run into is erudite, for the most part.